The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
The next day. When God has a plan, it goes according to his timing and not ours. People had been waiting nearly 400 years for the Messiah. He was promised at the end of the OT. It is interesting that as soon as JTB gave his testimony God starts the process of revealing Jesus to Israel. Gal 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Jesus came to him. It may be a minor thing as we read this, but it shows that Jesus comes to us, we don’t come to him. As JTB says in verse 33, he didn’t know him. It isn’t until the Father reveals Jesus to us, we don’t know him and can’t know him. When JTB says he didn’t know Jesus, it should be noted that JTB knew who Jesus was because they were cousins. See Luke 1:36 an Mary had visited JTB’s mother before either were born. Jesus had to reveal himself to JTB as the Messiah before he could really know Jesus. It isn’t good enough for us to know who Jesus is, we must know him personally.
The Lamb of God. This terminology would not be a surprise to the disciples. They would probably first think of the Passover Lamb or even the ram that God provided in place of Isaac when Abraham was supposed to sacrifice him. They would also be familiar with the lambs that were sacrificed daily in the temple. However, the big difference between all these lambs, other than Abraham’s lamb, was that people had to provide the lambs. God providing the lamb points again to our inability to save ourselves. Nothing we have is pure enough or good enough to be called the Lamb of God. This image is repeated in Revelation 5, the Lamb is again seen in Heaven at the right hand of God.
The Lamb takes away the sin of the world. As we will see when we get to John 3:16, the world doesn’t necessarily mean every person in the world. It is a reference to those that God has called and has from eternity past marked for eternal life. If this applied to every single person in the world, then Judas would also be saved and Jesus says he is doomed to destruction (John 17:12).
Note also that the Lamb of God takes away the sin (singular) of the world. What is the sin of the world? Is it not our rebellion against God? It started with Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. When that is removed, we are then able to be reconciled to God.
30 This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.”
JTB again testifies to Jesus’ eternal nature. JTB was born at least 3 months before Jesus. The only way Jesus could be before him would be his preexistence. This shows that JTB knew that not only did Jesus take away sin, but it is only God who can do it.
31 “I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’”
JTB tells of two reasons for baptizing Jesus.
It was to reveal Jesus to JTB. Even though JTB knew of Jesus and the circumstances of his birth, he still needed the reassurance that Jesus is the One to come. When in prison, JTB’s faith started faltering. It shows that JTB, though a prophet of God was still a human being who needed reassurance. God had obviously told him that the Holy Spirit would be symbolized as a dove because we can’t see the Holy Spirit.
It was to reveal Jesus to Israel. This is even more important than anything else JTB did. Even though he told people to repent and be baptized, that would have been worthless if it wasn’t followed up by Jesus and his sacrifice for our sins.
34 “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (ESV).
I wonder how the people other than the disciples responded to JTB’s statement that Jesus was the Son of God? After all their questioning him about who he was and then he says Jesus is the Son of God. This isn’t a statement that he is simply a child of God like we are, but that he is God himself. It would certainly bring some questions to mind as how a person could be a Son of God while God is one.